ALAN Richardson is to retire from first class cricket with immediate effect in order to take up the role of bowling coach at Warwickshire County Cricket Club.

During a career which has spanned 18 years with stints at Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Middlesex and latterly at New Road, Richardson has taken 569 first class wickets and was voted one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year, aged 37 in 2012.

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: "With a year left on Alan's contract it is hugely disappointing to lose a player who has performed so well for Worcestershire over the last four seasons taking over 250 four-day wickets.

"It will be our intention to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible but this will also now present opportunities for our developing squad of bowlers to make their mark and step up during 2014 and beyond."

Richardson said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my playing career and particularly the last four years at New Road which have been very special for me.

"I am grateful to Worcestershire for releasing me from the final year of my contract in order to take on this new challenge as part of the next chapter in my life."